|The Deer Hunter’s Last Prayer
By Marilyn Wilkerson
My physical therapist recently told this story to me. Knowing that I love sharing what our extraordinary God does in the lives of ordinary people, she asked me to write the story down. And so I have.
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Jenny teased the man, as was her style. As a physical therapist, she often worked with elderly patients in their homes. James had once been a strong man, one who enjoyed being a man and doing "manly things." One of his passions had been hunting. He knew Jenny shared his passion, and asked if she planned on hunting on the first day of the deer hunting season. She did.
James choked back the tears as he said, "I’ll never go hunting again." Jenny realized he was probably right. She was teaching him how to get out of his wheelchair and into his recliner or his bed. His health was failing fast, and he’d probably never have the strength to leave the house, let alone the strength to hunt again.
Still, something within Jenny’s heart told her to answer, "Would you like to go hunting with me tomorrow?"
Jenny didn’t hear all the words that James answered in response to her question. His words came gushing out. He was angry and hurt that she’d asked him to go hunting with her.
"How could you be so mean? How could you tease me so, knowing I can’t go hunting with you?"
Jenny thought that she’d heard from God, though, when she asked James if he wanted to accompany her on the hunting trip. Trusting God to help her respond to the hurt she’d inflicted upon James, she said, "What if I hit and killed a specific deer? One that you and I both knew that you’d prayed that I would get? Wouldn’t that be like you were hunting with me? And if I do kill that specific deer you’ve prayed about, I’ll promise to give you half the deer meat? What about it?"
James thought about what she’d proposed and a smile appeared slowly on his aging face. "How will we know you’ve killed the deer that I’ve prayed about?"
Jenny thought about that. "It would have to be obvious. What if you pray for a deer to stand broadside right in front of me, that it will look right at me, and that I’ll have plenty of time to take aim and kill that deer? And while you’re at it, why not pray that the deer just plops down and dies on the spot?"
Her elderly patient liked that idea and agreed to pray just that way.
The next morning, Jenny was up early on her way to her favorite hunting site. Her patient was up early as well, praying for "their" deer.
Much of the day had passed, and Jenny had almost forgotten about James and the prayer he promised to offer. From where she usually hunted, there were many places where her attention was drawn to watch for deer.
One place in her view, though, was a place she usually didn’t spend much time observing. It was the opening of a path where deer did sometimes appear. But the opening in the bushes was small, and a deer passing there would only give her a fleeting chance to aim and shoot. It wasn’t worth checking very often, for the odds of seeing a deer there in that small opening and being able to shoot it before it crossed behind the bushes were slim to none.
Something told her to turn around and look at that small opening, though. There, a deer stood broadside, just looking at her. It was about 60 feet away, and Jenny didn’t even have her gun in her hand at the time.
She thought, "If that’s the deer James has been praying about, then let it stay there long enough for me to get my gun."
The deer remained there, staring at her. She took aim and shot the deer, and it plopped down and died right where it was. It never took another step. And Jenny knew that deer was the one that James had been praying about.
The next morning at 5 a.m., the phone woke Jenny with a start. When she picked it up, she didn’t hear the usual, "Hello." Instead, she heard the voice of her elderly patient asking, "Did you get our deer?"
Jenny, as tired as she was that morning, sat up in bed. She shared with James how God has answered his prayer.
The elderly patient had, indeed, accompanied Jenny on her hunting trip. So had God. And Jenny rejoiced that she had been used in this special way.
James soon learned how to get from his wheelchair to his bed and his recliner. And Jenny moved on to another patient in need.
James was satisfied that he’d accompanied Jenny on the hunting trip that year, by specifically asking God for their deer. He enjoyed eating the venison meat of their deer. His last hunting prayer had been answered, and a few months later, he went to live with the God who had answered his prayer.